The Day Before the Berlin Wall: Could We Have Stopped It?: An Alternate History of Cold War Espionage
The plot is based on a "legend" that was still being told by U.S. Army soldiers in Berlin in the mid-1970s. According to the legend, we had advance knowledge of the wall, and we knew that the East-German troops who were going to build it had been told to halt construction if the Americans were to take aggressive action to stop them.
In Hill's version of the tale, a young American sergeant is the one who gets this piece of intelligence, but he is in East Berlin and has to get back to his unit to report it. The Stasi (the East German secret police) are prepared to kill to keep him from reporting it. They have killed his postmistress, and framed him for her murder. Now it is not only the Stasi, and the Vopos (the East-German "People's" Police), but also the West-Berlin municipal Polizei and the U.S. Army MPs who are after him. It’s the day before construction is scheduled to start, and time is running out, so the sergeant is running as fast as he can to prevent the wall from being built, and to keep himself out of jail.
The key question is "even if he is lucky enough to make it back across the border, will anybody in the West believe what he has to say and take action on it before it is too late?" History says that he either didn’t make it, they didn’t believe him, or they ignored his information. Join T.H.E. Hill in this alternate history of Cold War espionage to find out what might have happened.
Winner of the 2011 "Stars and Flags" Book Award for Historical Fiction.
Finalist for the 2011 NIEA Book Award in the "Thriller" category.
— The attraction of secret histories is "the ineradicable popular belief that the real facts of history are never given." — John Sutherland, "Bestsellers," (1981)
"The Day Before the Berlin Wall" was written for the same reasons that Frederick Kempe wrote his well-received Berlin 1961. In an interview posted on Amazon.com, Kempe says: "The Cold War is still the least understood and worst reported of our three world wars. Berlin was its epicenter. The year 1961 was the most decisive. I wanted to tell the story of that year. And I wanted to tell it through its protagonists, as rich a cast of characters as history could provide. I also wanted to satisfy my own questions about whether the Berlin Wall could have been avoided--and whether the Cold War could have been ended much earlier. Might we have been able to help liberate a whole generation of Eastern Europeans—tens of millions of people—three decades earlier?"
—— The Legend? Or was it fact?
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 354, a collection of declassified documents from just before the Berlin Wall, says: "One of the few remaining puzzles about the U.S. reaction to the Wall concerns the performance of U.S. intelligence during the lead-up to the sector border closing."
In July 2013, more information was declassified in "American Cryptology during the Cold War." A 9 August 1961 intercept of East-German Communist Party (SED) communications said they were about to begin blocking all foot traffic between East and West Berlin. The interagency intelligence Watch Committee said that this intercept "might be the first step in a plan to close the border," which turned out to be correct.
Peter Wyden’s non-fiction book Wall: The Inside Story of Divided Berlin (1989) talks about the HUMINT sources.
On 9 August, the Chief of USMLM predicted the construction of a wall at the weekly meeting of the Berlin Watch Committee, but he had no hard evidence to back up his prediction. (p. 91)
Unlike the Chief of USMLM, the Chief of the 513th MI Group (Berlin), had a source in the SED who predicted the correct date of the start of construction. A report had come in a week before construction. (pp. 92-93)
The French had a source who said “They’re going to erect barriers right in the middle of Berlin.” The source, sadly, had no info on the start date. (p. 93)
- Author: T.H.E. Hill
- Publication Date: 2010-11-09
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Product Group: Book
- Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Binding: Paperback, 188 pages
- Brand: Brand: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Used Book in Good Condition
- Package Dimensions:
- Dimensions: 890L x 600W x 50H
- Weight: 70
- List Price: $12.49
- ISBN: 1453825142
- ASIN: 1453825142